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Evidence for Early Long-Distance Obsidian Exchange and Watercraft Use from the Southern Lake Titicaca Basin of Bolivia and Peru

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Charles Stanish
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1510
Richard L. Burger
Affiliation:
Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520
Lisa M. Cipolla
Affiliation:
Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Michael D. Glascock
Affiliation:
Research Reactor Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211
Esteban Quelima
Affiliation:
Universidad Mayor San Andrés, La Paz, Bolivia

Abstract

Excavations at two sites on the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca, called Ch'uxuqullu and Titinhuayani, discovered significant preceramic (ca. 2000 B. C.) through Formative period (up to ca. A. D. 400) occupations. Excavation data indicate that there was a continuous occupation from the first known settlements on the island up to the present day. The early occupations on the island were culturally linked to the populations on the mainland, as indicated by ceramic analysis and the presence of nonlocal obsidian from the Colca Valley source, 275 km to the northwest. Our excavation data also reveal that there was a brisk exchange network between the island and mainland beginning at least during the Formative period, and probably earlier during the end of the Late Archaic period. Furthermore, paleoenvironmental data indicate that the island has been isolated from the mainland during most or all of the human occupation. The Lake Titicaca region of Peru and Bolivia was characterized by a system of exchange that relied, in part, on watercraft beginning at least by 1600 B. C.

Las excavaciones en dos sitios de la Isla del Sol en el Lago Titicaca, denominados Ch"uxuqullu y Titinhuayani, han descubierto una significativa ocupación preceramica (ca. 2000 a. C.) anterior al período Formativo (ca. 400 d. C.). Los datos de las excavaciones indican que en la isla, hubo una ocupación continua desde los primeros asentamientos conocidos hasta el presente. Las ocupaciones tempranas estuvieron vinculadas culturalmente con poblaciones de tierra firme, tal como lo señalan los análisis cerámicos y la presencia de obsidiana procedente de una cantera ubicada a 275 km al noroeste, en el Valle del Colca. Nuestros datos de la excavación sugieren que había una red del intercambio intensivo entre la isla y el continente, la cual habría empezado durante el período Formativo y probablemente, mucho antes, hacia finales del período Arcaico Tardío. Además, los datos paleoambientales muestran que la isla, durante toda la ocupación humana, ha sufrido un proceso de alejamiento de tierra firme. Estos datos indican por consiguiente que el Lago Titicaca, entre Perú y Bolivia se caracterizó por un sistema de intercambio, que incluía transporte lacustre, y que se remontarían al menos hasta el 1600 a. C.

Type
Reports
Copyright
Copyright © Society for American Archaeology 2002

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